I’ve always thought it was more important to be respected than liked.
Quote attributed to former President Ronald Reagan
In the international affairs arena, it’s more important to be feared than respected, in my humble opinion.
On January 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan took the oath of office. And the Iranians released the American hostages they had held for 444 days. Was Reagan the reason for the release? At the very least, the Iranians, after being invaded by Iraq, wanted a clean slate with the US. And the other possibility, the mullahs were fearful of a more openly hostile incoming administration. We can argue the extent a Reagan administration intimidated or influenced the Iranians, but one thing is unquestioned. The regime knew the new president would not use termination of diplomatic relations as his strongest action. And with their country invaded, they could not fight the world’s greatest superpower on one side and an aggressive neighbor on the other.
But there is no question, having an assertive, forceful president in the Oval Office is beneficial to achieving policies decisions. Reagan had showed the world early in his term his firm resolve. In August 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Control Organization (PATCO) went on strike, in violation of their contract and current law. Reagan warned them they were violating the law and their contract, and if they did not return within 48 hours, they would be terminated. They bet Rawhide would not do it. They lost.
Reagan ordered 11,000 air traffic controllers fired and barred them from federal employment. And foreign officials, allied and adversary, knew this was not a man to be trifled with. One man he deeply impressed was Mikhail Gorbachev.
Another example was the Korean War. The conflict continued for over two years, with no end in sight. The North Koreans knew Harry Truman would not use nuclear weapons in Asia again, and that gave Pyongyang a significant advantage. They could see the objective as not necessarily victory, but in avoiding loss, and wearing out American resolve.
Dwight Eisenhower famously said during the 1952 campaign that he would go to Korea. After his visit in December 1952, Ike was convinced action must be taken to bring this war to an end:
Instead, Eisenhower wanted to increase the psychological pressure on the Chinese. He intended to let them know “discreetly,” that unless the armistice negotiations resumed and satisfactory progress was being made, the United States would “move decisively without limitation in our use of weapons…We would not be limited by any world-wide gentlemen’s agreement.” Unleashing Chiang was a part of the pressure; so was Eisenhower’s announcement that he was increasing military assistance to the ROK; so were his frequent statements that the situation in Korea was “intolerable.” But the greatest pressure, by far, was his own reputation. The Chinese were fully aware that in the war against Germany, Eisenhower had used every weapon available in the Far East, that he would not accept a stalemate, and that he was not demanding their unconditional surrender, but only that they agree to an armistice. The substance behind Eisenhower’s threats was Eisenhower’s reputation, backed by America’s atomic arsenal.
The armistice was signed in July 1953, and holds till this day.
During the Yom Kippur War, the Soviets were being to move to support Egypt against the Israelis. Upon hearing of this action, President Nixon raided the defense condition to DEFCON III, moved two carriers into the Mediterranean, and alerted the 82nd Airborne Division for immediate movement. The Soviets did not interfere in the conflict. They were not ready to go to war with the United States over the Middle East.
So, what brings this subject up. I was channel surfing Saturday and caught this part of an interview with our president on 60 Minutes. Scott Pelley asked President Biden what would he tell the Russian leader if he is looking as using chemical or nuclear weapons, “Don’t…don’t…don’t…it would change the face of war unlike anything since World War II.” He sounded like he was falling asleep as he warned the Russian premier, so it wasn’t a forceful impression. Not quite as wretched as Hans Blix in Team America, but close.
Will our president draw a line in the sand on a beach saying, “Deep doo-doo!” His idol Barrack Obama tried that in Syria over ten years ago and it helped, how? No one believed Obama would stand for anything, and he showed it. And weakened the US in the eyes of the world.
Well President Biden would never let our enemies obtain billions in our finest weapons technology and take countless people hostage for show trials, etc., right? Oh, yea, been there, done that.
Now, Biden will take is neck off of American energy, right? This way he can produce energy that lowers the cost of oil and natural gas, reduces Russian revenue to fund its operations, gives our allies stable energy supplies at lower cost, and provide countless jobs for Americans. Right?
Contradictions abound. Biden has sought to slow drilling and launched verbal volleys at the oil industry for profiteering. Yet he has also sought to encourage oil production, including with these fixed-price purchase proposals, and, in releasing strategic barrels, ease pump prices even as he tries to foster a switch to electric vehicles. There is also something a bit weird about refilling the SPR with oil just so that it can be disposed of again under future Congressionally-mandated sales — why not just net off this year’s sales? On that point, Washington-based analytics firm ClearView Energy Partners says the desire to encourage domestic production, among other reasons, may make it politically useful to take the convoluted approach.
Our foreign policy (as well as our domestic policy…economic policy…energy policy…hell, anything policy) is in free fall at this moment. Our allies don’t respect us, and our enemies don’t fear us. And why should they? Our head of government is showing more signs of mental illness as the days go by. He cannot remember what American policy is. I doubt he can remember what’s the color of the White House.
A classic example. As I’m finishing this (late Sunday evening), I received an email from National Review, reporting President Biden said American forces would be deployed to Taiwan if China invaded:
Biden Says U.S. Forces Would Defend Taiwan If China Invaded
September 18, 2022 8:53 PM
President Biden said in an interview aired Sunday that U.S. forces would defend Taiwan if China were to invade the island.
During an interview broadcast on Sunday, 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley asked Biden what Chinese President Xi should know about his commitment to Taiwan.
“We agree with what we signed onto a long time ago,” Biden replied. “And that there’s one China policy, and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving — we’re not encouraging their being independent. We’re not — that — that’s their decision.”
“But would U.S. forces defend the island?” Pelley pressed.
Biden responded: “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”
“So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir,” Pelley said, “U.S. forces, U.S. men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?”
“Yes,” Biden said.
A White House official later told 60 Minutes that U.S. policy on Taiwan has not changed.
Biden has suggested several times now that the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily. However, after each statement, the White House has walked back Biden’s claims. The U.S. officially maintains “strategic ambiguity” on whether U.S. forces would defend Taiwan.
Pardon me as I put a splash of coffee in my cup of whiskey.
We are in crisis ladies and gentlemen, and it’s the Democrats doing. Our weakness is encouraging our enemies to be more assertive, and we are impotent in response. Some may counter Biden is being forceful in the Ukraine. Granted, he is shipping weapons to their military, and that is helping. However, if he had been forceful from day one of his administration, would Putin have invaded? Not likely.
The motto of the USS Ronald Reagan is simple: Peace Through Strength. The first part of strength is resolve. The world has looked at us for leadership since World War II, and while we have ebbed and flowed in that duty over the years, we have never abandoned the helm. Until now (and arguably during Obama’s years). We can only hope our next president and congress are not as worthless as the current one is
- Ambrose, Stephen E., Eisenhower: The President (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster: 1984), 52 ↑
Michael A. Thiac is a retired Army intelligence officer, with over 23 years experience, including serving in the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the Middle East. He is also a retired police patrol sergeant, with over 22 years’ service, and over ten year’s experience in field training of newly assigned officers. He has been published at The American Thinker, PoliceOne.com, and on his personal blog, A Cop’s Watch.
Opinions expressed are his alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of current or former employers.
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